The Cyber Baroque World of Italy’s Rondò Veneziano

Positing a fantasy world where Renaissance and Enlightenment values co-existed with the joys and preoccupations of the coming technological age, the Rondo Veneziano orchestra was the brainchild of Italian record label owner Freddy Naggiar, who noticed the lack of Italian instrumental music on the international scene and charged orchestra director and arranger/composer Gian Piero Reverberi to come up with someone or something to fill the gap…

Death at the Fair: Britain’s Ghost Trains

By Richard McKenna

The itinerant fun fairs that stalked the British Isles, descending at regular intervals upon some desolate local field like shoddy Fortean dream cities, were once a major part of the informal national calendar. As a child growing up in the hinterland of the world’s most beautiful town—the gleaming futurist metropolis known as Doncaster, South Yorkshire—I was lucky enough to live near a fuck-off massive one…

A Future with Nobody Inside: Chrome’s ‘Red Exposure’

By Richard McKenna

Though sometimes dismissed as a disappointing compromise between the two phases of Chrome’s musical output—the delirious, expressionist SF punk cut-ups of Alien Soundtracks (1977) and Half Machine Lip Moves (1979) and the more “traditional” LPs that followed, like Blood on the Moon (1981) and 3rd From the Sun (1982)—Chrome’s fourth LP, 1980’s Red Exposure, could scarcely sound more uncompromising…

No Powerful Idea Lasts Long: The Memphis Group and the Look of the ’80s

By Richard McKenna

Of the many cultural tributaries that flowed together into what we now think of as the visual aesthetic of the 1980s, one of the most prominent must be the Memphis Group. Convened in 1981 by Austrian-born architect and designer Ettore Sottsass, Memphis was a collective that—incongruously, for something that seems so violently of its times—took its name from the lyric of a Bob Dylan song…

One Sheet Terrors: Enzo Sciotti Film Posters, 1980 – 1990

The promotional artwork used on genre film posters, and later on VHS packaging, was often more important for establishing a foothold in the popular imagination than the films themselves. This was especially true in the Italy of the 1980s, where a thriving and competitive cinema industry was increasingly looking to the opportunities offered by foreign markets and the burgeoning home video trade…

“In London” by Vangelis and Neuronium, 1981

This atmospheric piece, which would later be given the name “In London,” was part of an improvisation session featuring Greek synthesizer musician Vangelis and Spanish electronic group Neuronium. Filmed in 1981 for Spanish TV program Musical Express as part of “Serie Amigos” (the “Friends Series”), the performance was recorded at Nemo, the London recording studio that Vangelis had established in 1975 and where he would continue to work until 1983…